HOT VOX's Exclusive Interview With... Gary Dixon from TTM Collective Orchestra!

In the run-up to TTM Collective Orchestra's Album Launch at the o2 Academy Islington this Sunday, we have interviewed Gary "Revelation" Dixon! Check out the interview below and learn more about the Collective, what's in store with the new album and gig this weekend. 

So Gary, please tell me a little bit about your background? 

I am the son of a musician, Ferdinand Satchmo Dixon, who ended up supporting Bob Marley and The Wailers so I have grown up with music surrounding me due to my family. As a teenager, I was in a reggae band called Revelation. This was a huge success with a number of singles and two albums "Book Of Revelation" Variation On A Theme", back in the late 70s. We had a number one single called "With You Boy", this was very much inspired by the Lover's Rock genre, which was birthed at the time. Revelation toured up and down the UK as well as Europe - especially Holland, we had big success there. However, we broke up in the early 80s. Therefore, I went into solo productions and projects and produced a song called 'Cruising Man', which was a big hit in the Reggae industry with Outer Limits and went to number 1 also. After that, I took a break due to family and kids, work etc...

Recently, in the last 5 or 6 years, I decided to get back into the recording industry, with my co-producer Stuart Green, who was an original member of Revelation's too and he has his own studio in London called 3 Chronicles. This is when the birth of the TTM Collective EP came about in 2017 and the rest is history! This EP was released as a band, but now we decided to add real strings and brass etc. which is why we are now the TTM Collective Orchestra. Now, we are about to launch an album called Inspirational Love Songs Masterpiece, featuring a lot of various artists who are successful in their own right and have chosen to collaborate with us, which is a blessing!

How did the collaboration with the singers and musicians who are featured on the project come about?

Well, I've been in and out of the industry and have come across a lot of good, established musicians and vocalists on my journey. Therefore, I ensured I networked and exchanged contact details and ended up getting called on a session as a drummer or percussionist. Throughout the years, I've just kept the people that I really want to work with on my list, then subsequently put them together for the TTM Collective Orchestra. 

I have noticed that a number of the songs are cover versions of some very popular songs, what inspired you to record these particular songs?

I've always had a love for these songs, they've always been with me over the years. This is because they're great love songs between a man and a woman, I thought these songs could be flipped between ourselves and God, us as a human being, a love for being Christian, a love for being spiritual and a love for having God in our lives. There is a twist on the emotion and I wanted it to become a gospel version of these well-known love songs. An example of this is "You Are So Beautiful" written by Billy Preston and made famous by Joe Cooker. This was originally written not as a love song between a man and a woman, but was written as a love song between us and God. Not many people know that fact.

You have a collective of singers & musicians on this project, how did this evolve? 

So, Toyin Adekale originally from the UK, however living in the USA for many years, voiced her song "Open Up  A my Heart" in the USA, then sent that back and we completed music production in London, then had it mastered in Jamaica. Toyin, after having a successful career over the years with Boney M and as a solo artist in her own right. We also have Lurine Cato who has won numerous awards in the gospel territory (too many to mention!) and is one of the top premier gospel singers in the UK. She has collaborated with David Copeland, who is from the Midlands, again another very successful singer and a minister. We have Natalie Phillips, another phenomenal gospel vocalist - she's mainly in the RnB and Soul genre of Gospel. But she's come in and done her first reggae song with us "Take Me To The King".

Finally, we've had some young people who are making a bit of a name for themselves in the Gospel scene here in the UK. Camara Fearon, OMG, Camara is an incredibly talented young lady and very creative.  also includes a new artist who has been in the industry for a while but has taken a career break and now has made a recent comeback like Maryla Abraham. She is phenomenal and a prodigy of Lurine Cato, who is her mentor so to speak. Lurine was very instrumental and introduce Maryla to me, as the latest addition on the album. We have a collective of 12 top guest artists on this New Album, which also includes Sandra McCalla who stepped up from backing vocals to a lead vocalist, Kevin German, who was previously with UK top Gospel group Eklesia, Stuart Green my co-producer and is featured on a classical piece "Winter Sonata", as an instrumental and talking of instrumentals, we have Millicent Stephenson saxophonist doing her rendition of the hit song, "Take Me To The King". On the album. I hope I have not left anyone out, as we are just about to start rehearsals, who will be doing some solo instrumentals during the show on Sunday. One of the band members includes Kevin Robinson, from Simply Red! We are really blessed to have this calibre of musicians on the project! Other noted Musicians are our Musical Director & Drummer Chris Thompson who has played with the top UK, USA & Jamaican singers, likewise Cyrus Richards on Keyboards, Dave Brooks, Bass, Ivan Christie & Floyd Parris on Guitars,  Ray Carless veteran sax player, also Harry Bone Brown on Trombone. Oh, Mahaliah Edwards who takes care of all our Strings and was introduced to me by Millicent. We cannot forget the all-important other backing Vocals, Michelle Conner, and Donna Moore. Too many names to recall.

As a Gospel orchestra, what is your main objective when you go out to perform? 

I'd say our main objective is to sound like a very authentic reggae outfit, to perform an authentic Jamaican sound but alongside the elements of the orchestra, just to bring in nice flavours with strings, brass and full percussion alongside the band with solid drums, bass, keyboards and guitars in order to bring the collective together. We want to give people their value for money in terms of hearing wonderful sounds within the orchestra, just so it's an authentic Gospel sound. Sometimes we have people come to our performances, who aren't Christian! They just love the sound and what we do. 

What can we expect from this weekend's performance at the o2 Islington? 

You can expect something very very special, things not done before in terms of a Reggae Gospel outfit with an orchestra. Everyone is in for a real treat, without giving too much away it's going to be special! People are going to be ministered to through wonderful love songs with that are popular. It will feel a lot like movies being shown at the Royal Albert Hall with the soundtracks being played with a live orchestra along with fabulous vocals.

If you could perform at any venue of your choosing, where would it be and who would you choose to perform with you? 

Haha, funnily enough, it would be the Royal Albert Hall! I would have all the same people, I wouldn't have anybody else just TTM Collective Orchestra and the wonderful artists who are with us at the moment. I would love to have a world tour.

What are your short and long term visions for this project? 

In terms of the short term, I would want to establish TTM Collective Orchestra as a mainstream outfit and perform at festivals all over the UK such as the Isle of Wight and Glastonbury etc... That would be something very special and I think if one of these main events were to have us on the bill, then TTMCO would become a sort after entity, just like what happened to The Kingdom Choir after the Royal Wedding last summer.

Finally, for the long-term vision, I think it would be recording love songs, original songs and hymns maybe as well as touring across the world and having well-established singers wanting to sing with us and new up and coming artists, I have already had some enquiries.

You mentioned you would like to record some original music, will we be expecting that anytime in the near future?

We have a wealth of talent around us to write original songs, for instance, Bex Grant and Lurine Cato, Camara to name a few, who write their own songs. After the performance this Sunday, we'll probably get our heads down and figure out where we can take this and see where we go. It will definitely be something I would love to do. 

Where can we keep up to date with the TTM Collective Orchestra? 

You can keep up to date with us on Facebook via Gary Revelation Dixon, as well as through GLR Records Ltd on Facebook. Feel free to like the page and message us! We also have a WhatsApp group to keep people updated with our future events +44 (0)7973 712425. We even have our own app - GLR Records Ltd free to log on! I'm starting to get into Instagram - gary_revelation_dixon and Twitter - MrPercussion @garydixon811.



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